By Stephen Babcock, The Times-Picayune
Oil from well being plugged may be cause of beach pollution
Oil was released into the Gulf of Mexico south of Grand Isle for four to six hours Saturday, the apparent source of oil that washed ashore on Louisiana beaches Sunday, a Jefferson Parish Council member said.
The source of the leak has been secured, Councilman Chris Roberts said in an email.
There have been reports that Grand Isle and other barrier islans had been polluted by the oil.
Roberts said Coast Guard Capt. John Burton, the commanding officer of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Morgan City, said a drilling site was being plugged when the leak occurred.
On Saturday, the Coast Guard received varying reports detailing a sheen between three and 100 miles long, starting about six miles off the coast of Grand Isle. However, the Guard apparently is investigating that as a separate incident.
The Coast Guard had investigated the sheen by sending out a cutter to collect samples, Coast Guard spokeswoman Casey Ranel said.
The Coast Guard said the samples contained "only trace amounts of petroleum hydrocarbons, oil and grease."
The Coast Guard said "the dark substance (in the Gulf) is believed to be caused by a tremendous amount of sediment being carried down the Mississippi River due to high water, possibly further agitated by dredging operations."
The Guard said it is deploying boom to protect areas where "an oily substance was washing ashore on Elmer Isle, Fourchon Beach and Grand Isle." (What a contradiction!, it's sediment but we are placing oil boom everywhere!)((JLW))The Guard is treating the the beach oilings as separate from the sheen it said contained only trace amounts of hydrocarbons.
"We have 10,000 feet of hard boom and 9,000 feet of five-inch sorbent boom ordered into the area. We have 5,000 feet of each boom already delivered and staged in Grand Isle," Burton said.
A company has been hired to clean up the impacted shorelines, the Coast Guard said.
"Samples have been taken from the shoreline impacts for testing, but the oily substance is not, at this time, suspected to be residual oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill," the Coast Guard said in a press release.
Grand Isle Fire Chief Aubrey Chaisson said he saw the substance up close Sunday aboard a boat and also viewed it from a helicopter. He said the substance, which covered about a two to three-mile area, looked like "emulsified oil."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.